Sandy shores

Endless silky sand beach the shores of hes edging the aquamarine waters along the shores of Riviera Maya beckon visitors escaping the cold. For 90 glorious miles. Riviera Maya´s spectacular beaches intersect picturesque fishing villages, luxurious resorts, the sophisticated town of Playa del Carmen and secluded coves where ecosystems that are centuries old seem little changed in all that time.

The beach is the ultimate attraction at Puerto Morelos. Don snorkeling or diving gear and enter the Puerto Morelos Reef National Park, part of the Great Mayan Reef. Charters take sportfishing enthusiasts out for big-game fish as well as a smaller fry to cook for dinner that night. Arrive a the beach by way of a zip-line jungle tour.

Take a detour to Playa del Carmen, The beaches that front this delightful town reflect its diversity as well. Swat a volleyball over the net, rent a sailboat or Jet Ski, sip an umbrella-topped drink at one of the beachfront restaurants, or snorkel off the shoreline and search for seashells on the northern end of Playa´s beaches.

Want adventure? Parasail, kite or windsurf, if you dare, skydive. It´s high energy in the central beach area that parallels Fith Avenue, the main shopping drag in Playa, with music and a buzz that gets louder as the sun climbs higher in the sky. But look for vestiges of a quieter Mexico here too. In a small park near the ferry docks, children play and at festival times, vendors bring a variety of treats, candies, freshly made tamales, and soft-centered macaroons.

Ecotourists should head to Akumal, where the Centro Ecológico Akumal educates people about the sea turtles that lay eggs on Akumal Beach. The closeness of the coral reef creates calm, shallow waters, making it perfect for family fun. Not too far from the water´s edge, sea grass provides a sanctuary for sea turtles, by swimming the short distance, snorkelers can watch them feed.

Take a trip in a catamaran, for a day sail to two magnificent beaches: Xcacel and Chemuyil. If the waves are too rough, opt instead for the protected waters of Akumal´s Yal-ku Lagoon, where clear waters reveal an underwater landscape of valleys and caves. Or explore the nearby cenotes and 30 reefs hidden by the azure Caribbean Sea.